Gallery: Controversial Book Claims Renewable Energy Does Not Offset Fos...


A controversial new environmental book called Green Illusions, by University of California Berkeley scholar Ozzie Zehner, claims that renewable energy technologies in the US are not offseting fossil fuel use in the United States. In fact, Zehner claims that by building more solar cells and wind turbines, we could actually be accelerating fossil fuel use.

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  1. blueskykate July 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Zehner is correct. This is called Jevons Paradox and it is very real. I believe his point is that we should all be focused less on how alternative energies might help us maintain our current relatively luxurious lifestyles, and more on how to meet basic needs with much less energy.

  2. james david moffet iii June 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    It’s important to note that conventional fuel producers get far, far more subsidy and investment than renewable producers and in some cases the money comes out of the same budget, meaning that a dollar in subsidy/investment for renewable energy reduces the subsidy/investment available for conventional energy by $1, which is, on balance, a victory. Ending energy subsidies altogether and instituting a dirty energy tax would, of course, be far more effective in reducing our impact on the environment (but politically impossible without a nasty popular uprising).

    The “throwing harder” problem actually has nothing to do with renewable energy, we’d be “throwing harder” at conventional generation if we weren’t doing it with renewables (probably much more effectively to boot).

    The author is describing a problem of total energy costs being too low for his liking. The “Boomerang Effect” is a silly buzzword. The effect exists to an even larger degree in conventional energy investment and subsidy, which means that it is devoid of any meaningful connection to renewable energy, except for the slight, obvious, irony in the fact that cheaper wind-turbines and solar panels cause people to consume more energy.

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